~ The above? Your [ugly and inappropriate] Leg Photo of the Day ~
It’s of my sexy (so so sexy!) leg as I type this. My leg is covered in little, round, blue and black, bruises from trying to get rid of my current IT Band pain issues. Boooo, I say boooo! So for the newbies out there, here’s some info on IT Band Syndrome - from my personal experience, of course.
What is IT Band Pain?
It stands for Iliotibial band syndrome (but psshhh, I don’t like using big words), and is a pain I get on the outside of my knee when I run. It’s a pretty sharp stab into the side of my knee with each step I take, and will usually force me to stop running. Going down stairs is the worst with it too. (My history with IT Band pain here)
What causes IT Band Pain?
It’s caused because the muscle that runs from my hip to my thigh (my IT Band) is tight, and filled with lots of little knots, which in turn shortens the band. This means my knee is working over time, trying to compensate for my short muscle.
What is IT Band from?
It usually occurs in runners from “too much, too fast” or an increase in mileage (August 2011 was a huge month for me, mileage wise! Hence, I currently have it). It’s also not just running, people get it from walking, and cycling too. The pain (at least mine) is usually so bad I need to stop and take some days off.
Is it easy to fix?
Yes. The beautiful thing about IT Band pain is it’s a “cause and effect” type pain. If the outside area of your knee hurts, in my very un-professional opinion, I’d say there is a high chance your hip/bum is tight and your IT Band is filled with little knots. Take your thumb and dig it into the side of your thigh – does it feel like you’re pushing on a bruise? It shouldn’t, so if it does – it’s tight.
How do you fix it?
In a word? Commitment. I’ve had IT band issues every single season since I started running, and it never goes away until I 110% commit to getting rid of it. If you half-ass it, the pain still lingers.
Steps to fixing your IT Band Pain?
- Buy a foam foller (like, right now). It’s the cheapest and most effective way of getting rid of IT issues. You can watch my foam roller video here! And order your foam roller here – remember, when choosing a foam roller, the harder the better (that’s what she said).
- Stop running. Time off certainly won’t heal your knee 100% - you have to still do proactive things, but it certainly helps.
- Ice-ice-ice! Despite your knee not being the actual problem (it’s the tight outside thigh muscle that’s the problem) it doesn’t hurt to ice the side of your knee, as it’s most likely inflamed by over compensating for your short thigh.
- Exercises! There are lots (and lots!) of IT Band stretches you can do to try strengthen your hips, and abductors (your side hip muscle). I don’t do them, because I’m lazy and stupid, but if you dedicate time to exercises it does help [so I heard]. Just Google “IT band stretches”
- Physiotherapy – this can be pricey (I pay $70 for 20 minutes!! But luckily, it’s covered for me) so make sure you do your research. I’ve heard you should never have to go more than 4 times – if nothing has improved, something is wrong! Essentially the physio will pound and massage and scrape those little knots out of your leg, it’s that satisfying-type-of-hurt too.
You can also use a rolling pin on your thigh (and yup, you actually roll it up and down your thigh trying to get the knots out) or lie on your side on a tennis ball (put the tennis ball where it hurts / is a knot). When you feel the pain (a knot) stop and wait 30 seconds (this is the same when foam rolling).
Is bruising normal?
I sure hope so! I don’t bruise easily either, but those blue/black bruises on my thigh are from my date with the foam roller last night. They’re the little knots/balls of tight muscle, which I am trying to get out… it hurts to get them out, but I’m sure within the week they’ll be gone.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?
Leave a comment, and I’ll do my best to answer it!